De Montaigne’s “On Liars”

Michel de Montaigne
“On Liars”
Area: History of Memory and Memory Studies
•    Considering how necessary it is, Plato was right in calling memory a great and powerful goddess-in my country
•    They can see no difference between memory and intellect.
•    But they wrong me, for experience shows that, on the contrary, excellent memories are often coupled with feeble judgments.
•    For lack of memory is an intolerable defect in anyone who takes on the burden of the world’s affairs.
•    Again, my speech is consequently briefer, for the storehouse of the memory is generally better stocked with material than that of the invention. If my memory had been good, I should have deafened all my friends with my chatter, since any subject that calls out such powers as I have of argument and development warms and extends my eloquence.
•    Particularly dangerous are old men who retain the memory of past events but do not remember how often they have repeated them.
•    Not without reason is it said that no one who is not conscious of having a sound memory should set up to be a liar.
•    If liars make a complete invention, they apparently have much less reason to be afraid of tripping up, inasmuch as there is no contrary impression to clash with their fiction. But even this, being an empty thing that offers no hold, readily escapes from the memory unless it is a very reliable one.


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